Marla Clark won the Republican nomination for the first contested Johnson County judge race since 1996.
Clark, who is magistrate of the county juvenile and family court, gathered 4,569 votes, or 57 percent of the vote, and Joe Villanueva earned 3,412 votes, or 43 percent.
A Democrat or independent candidate could be slated to oppose Clark in the fall election.
The new judge will oversee Superior Court 4, a new county court that will handle civil cases such as divorces and foreclosures. Johnson County is creating the new court due to increasing new case filings, which is leading to cases taking longer to be resolved.
The new court will take on mortgage foreclosures currently handled in another county court and 50 percent of the county’s divorce filings, allowing other county courts to deal more with criminal cases.
“I think we ran a good, clean race, and I’m just very happy and relieved tonight,” Clark said Tuesday evening.
The race drew the most attention of any county office for the primary election. The candidates had the highest campaign spending, and both had attention-grabbing billboards.
The new judge for Superior Court 4 will serve a six-year term and hear civil cases and also will manage office clerks and plan annual spending for the court. The judge will earn an annual salary of $134,112 from the state, plus $5,000 from the county.
Clark, who has been magistrate of the county juvenile and family court since 2005, handles multiple cases each day. She served as a substitute judge in Johnson County between 2001 and 2005 before being appointed to lead the juvenile and family court. She also worked with Indiana Court of Appeals judges to draft opinions and specialized in family law and civil cases during law school.
Villanueva is chief deputy prosecutor for the county.
Clark’s strategy of using social media, yard signs, billboards, print ads, TV and radio commercials helped her reach a wide range of voters, she said.
If she ends up with an opponent in the fall, she said, she’ll be ready for more campaigning.
“We’ve shown we can run a good race. We’re prepped to do it again if we have to,” she said.
The other county courts will be working together to get Superior Court 4 running in January, and Clark will be involved with that regardless of whether she is elected in the fall. Court staff will be separating case files to transfer them to the new court and scheduling cases for the court before the election, she said.
How You Voted
Superior Court 4 judge
Marla Clark 4,569
Joe Villanueva 3,412